By Sonya Sanford
WHEN I go to a kosher bakery anywhere in the world, I look for
poppy seed rolls. I love them for their delicate and shiny pastry
and for their sweet, inky, fruity and slightly bitter poppy seed
I especially love poppy seed rolls in the morning with a strong
cup of coffee or black tea. It’s a decadent deviation from a sensible
breakfast, and it’s especially good on a Shabbat morning.
The sweet poppy seed roll is common in Jewish and non-Jewish communities
in Central and Eastern European countries from Hungary, to Poland,
to Ukraine, to Romania, and more. It is particularly popular during
the winter holidays.
In my family, my father and I have always been big fans of this
pastry, and we will search high and low for a bakery that offers
the best version.
We will try different rolls and debate the finer points of each
pastry: Was it too sweet? Was the ratio of poppy seed to pastry
good? Was the pastry soft enough?
There’s a reason that poppy seed rolls don’t seem to be a wildly
popular baked good — they are a bit fussy to make.
The pastry is made of an enriched dough; it takes time for the
dough to be kneaded into a silky smooth mass; it takes time for
the dough to rise; and it takes a little focus and care to shape
and form the rolls.
The poppy seed filling also takes a little work, although you
can buy pre-made poppy seed filling in a can if you want to make
your life easier.
One must grind the poppy seeds in batches, heat up several ingredients
and be patient with chilling time. Patience is part of the poppy
seed roll process.
Yet this is the kind of pastry that offers both nostalgic satisfaction
and a sense of accomplishment when baked at home.
The dough is so smooth and inviting to work with, and the poppy
seed filling is glossy and pleasingly deep in colour.
While making this, you might feel like you’re a contestant on
The Great British Bake-Off in an episode where they’ve asked you
to make an ‘Old World Classic’ for the technical challenge.
You might nervously hope that the filling doesn’t leak, that the
dough has neither over nor under-proofed, and that there is a perfect
swirl of poppy seeds inside when it is finally cooled and you make
your first slice.
When I’ve made this, sometimes my pastry did leak, and sometimes
the swirl was not as perfect as I’d hoped for, and yet the flavour
never suffered for it.
Tasting the still warm roll in any of its forms always seems to
erase the memory of the labour and any perceived imperfections.
Fresh out of the oven and (patiently) waiting for the rolls to
cool a bit, the kitchen gets filled with buttery, nutty, vanilla
smells, and nothing feels more homely than that.
For the latkes:
For the everything bagel topping:
Before getting started on the latkes, I advise making the everything
bagel topping and the dill cream cheese.
Add softened cream cheese to a bowl and combine with fresh dill,
lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Place back in the fridge
until ready to serve.
To make the everything bagel topping, mix together the sesame
seeds, poppy seeds, dried garlic, dried onion and thick sea salt.
Peel and cut potatoes and onions in half. Peel garlic cloves.
Place potatoes, onion and garlic through food processor for a
coarse grate (you can also grate coarsely by hand).
Place potato mixture to a large bowl. Add eggs, flour, salt, goat
cheese and 2 tablespoons everything bagel topping mix.
Heat vegetable oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Form
bite-sized mounds of latkes, taking care not to squeeze too much
liquid out of the latkes.
Fry until golden brown on each side, then place on a wire rack
on top of a baking sheet to cool. Immediately sprinkle with a pinch
When ready to serve, spread thin layer of dill cream cheese on
top of each latke.
Add smoked salmon on each latke and top with sprinkle of everything
Serve while still warm.
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